Have you ever considered using planks within your strength training routine? If not, then you are seriously missing out. That is, missing out on a great opportunity to strengthen your core, but most importantly, build strong and powerful abdominal muscles.
Planks are one of the most effective core exercises because it targets several muscle groups at a single time. With planks, you will target the recutus abdominis (front abs), the transverse abdominis (sides of abs), the lower back, the hips, the glutes, the hamstrings, and the deltoids.
Planks can be considered a compound exercises because of many different muscles it targets. If your 100s of crunches aren’t cutting it, then you need to consider using planks. While the difficulty level is much higher, planks will provide with much greater short and long-term results.
I’m going to explain how to perform front and side planks, so that you can start using this great exercise as soon as possible.
The front plank is the most commonly used plank. If you’re using planks for the first time then I highly recommend you start out with this variation. Use it for an extended amount of time to build up a solid foundation for more challenging variations in the future. Once you can hold the front plank for one-minute straight with perfect form, then you will be ready to advanced onto the next level.
The plank is a very simple exercise. Start with your elbows and forearms on the ground with your feet and legs straight out behind you. Your elbows should be directly below your shoulders.
The key to keep your body and back as straight as possible. You must avoid lifting your glutes up into the air, and avoid letting your lower back sag. The optimal plank position will be with your core tight and flexed, and with your back as straight as a piece of wood.
The side plank will directly target the transverse abdominis muscles. The difficulty level is much higher with this variation because you are holding all of your weight with a single arm. To start out, try holding the side plank for about 30-45 seconds.
One elbow will be on the ground positioned below the shoulder, your core will be elevated off the ground, and will be balancing the sides of your feet. You can put your feet together, or place them next to each other.
These are only the most basic variations of the plank, but are a great place for beginners to start. Master these, and then you will be able to move onto more advanced planks.